Banned gambler loses bid to play again

Atlantic City, New Jersey – A court has ruled that an admitted problem gambler who voluntarily put his name on a list barring him from Atlantic City’s casinos for life cannot take his name off the list.

The man, identified only as S.D., put his name on the self-exclusion list in 2004, which bars him from Atlantic City’s 11 casinos.

But what he didn’t know was that the names on the list can be shared with casinos in other states, who also can bar the individuals from gambling there.

He asked the state Casino Control Commission to remove his name from the list, but they refused. Then he appealed the ruling, and lost again in a decision released Thursday.

„We are satisfied the commission had ample basis in fact, law, and public policy to deny S.D.‘s request for removal from the lifetime (self-exclusion list) and perceive of no grounds upon which to second-guess the agency’s decision,“ the judges wrote. „As the commission recognized, S.D. has no fundamental right to gamble, constitutionally or statutorily.“

The man’s lawyer, Gerard Quinn, said he was disappointed in the ruling, but declined further comment, saying he has not had a chance to discuss it with his client.

Linda Kassekert, chairwoman of the commission, hailed the ruling.

„Clearly, the value of the self-exclusion program would have been compromised if someone who voluntarily signed up for lifetime exclusion was able to remove himself just because he wasn’t told other casinos elsewhere might exclude him as well.“

According to Quinn, S.D. lives within driving distance of Atlantic City.

After a losing a pile of money at an Atlantic City casino in July 2004, he drove directly to the casino commission headquarters and put his name on the self-exclusion list.

It was a decision he immediately regretted; within an hour of putting himself on the list, S.D. was on the phone trying to have himself taken off. The commission said no.

Before long, he started getting letters from casinos outside Atlantic City telling him he could no longer play there, either.

His lawyers argued that S.D. did not know when he signed up that casinos outside New Jersey might use it, too. Since 2004, the form for exclusion from casinos has been changed to make it clear that out-of-state casinos can also use the list.

Currently 663 people are on the list — an all-time high. About half are banned for life; the rest have chosen shorter terms.